tv Political Cartoonist Thomas Nast CSPAN June 10, 2017 2:30pm-3:46pm EDT
arrival she spent four years teaching 19th-century american history at eastern kentucky university, as well as several years in the history departments of ucla. she finished her phd at ucla and studied under joan law. many of us are familiar with joan. she has spoken here on a number of occasions and the author of a superb biography of ulysses s. grant. an, fiona's dissertation became "thomas nast : the father of modern political cartoons" published in 2013. it is my pleasure to welcome fiona. [applause]
fiona: hi. i want to thank you for inviting me here and actually for all the help she provided as i prepared to come and spend this hour with you. i'm here to talk about thomas nast . what i will do is introduce him to you broadly at first, and then talk more specifically about what the civil war did for thomas nast . i think it refine him in ways that were essential to his success later in life. then we will move ended three things awarded for him. i had a conversation. civil warhis year's institute with focus in an interesting way on personalities and the effects of the war on real people. i think this session will be entirely in keeping with that observation. bavariaast was born in
in 1840. this is not a picture of him as a child. he immigrated to the united states in 1846 with his mother, landing in new york. they were effectively political refugees. his father held liberal local police. in the years leading up to the revolution of 1848, he learned he to get in a lot of trouble for what he believed. he said his family to new york for safe eating and followed behind them. nast began his life in new york with a bit of a rocky start. he was not a great student. his mother enrolled him in a local school, but because nast was unable to speak english at six years old he fell victim to a playful classmate who directed him on the first day to get into a line. nast did not realize until too late this was the naughty line where you would get spanked. oops. he went running home at lunch and told his mother he was never going back to school.
although not literally true, that was in some ways true. nast did not enjoy formal education. he was perennially truant. by his early teens he give up entirely on the concept of education. instead he went to work for frank leslie on his illustrated news. he got this job in a way he was proud of for the rest of his life. if you know any 15-year-olds, it may ring some bells. he went to frank leslie and said i'm an artist. hire me. frank leslie had a lot of personality himself. he was not unfamiliar with this kind of drama. he was not taking nast terribly seriously. theave him a task in tradition of going down to the waterfront and draw an image of the ferry the one across the river every morning. he' did nothing to kid would do it. nast went down for days. every day he would observe the
background. what time the whistle blew that everybody got on the ferry and how it looked and decided what he wanted to be in the illustration. having sketched in the background and decided on the framing, do when one morning and produced a very attractive sketch that he presented to frank leslie, who of course was trapped by his own hubris and head off for the young man a job. from that moment nast work for the rest of his life steadily. though not always for steady people. you may already know that one of the problems with frank leslie was he often did not pay people who worked for him, which they did not like very much. he works pretty steadily. first for frank leslie in the for the new york illustrated news, harpers weekly. it was at harpers weekly he built his career. that was the thing that catapulted him into fame. and for a while fortune, though that is a sad story. you can ask me about that later.
and a place in american art and political history. in his prime he was the most famous cartoonist in america. he was a widely liked and admired, and of course feared and hated person. he could be delightful. he was childlike his entire life. one of the people he worked with at harpers who ran the publishing fortune and harpers weekly itself talked about how he came home to his brownstone in new york monday and was handing his coat and hat is butler. you know how they are tall and skinny. he heard above and what sounded like a herd of elephants running back and forth. what is that infernal noise? the answer was thomas nast came to speak with him and finding him not at home i got to the nursery and was playing chase with all the children all around the house and causing a terrible noise. this is typical of nast. people love him for this kind of
persona that embrace all that was fun and entertaining in life. he produced illustrations, cartoons and christmas drawings for harpers until the 1880's. for your of easement of pulled a few the christmas illustrations. people love these christmas illustrations to this day. there are some similarities here, including his own children, backgrounds from his own home. and some similarities in his portrayal of santa. it is pretty consistent over time, particularly with red cheeks and how chubby he is. these are so popular that today, for you inclined to do so, it is not difficult to obtain things like dessert plates and christmas ornaments for yourself that feature nast's christmas designs. for a pop cultural form of illustration two indoor across so much time and beyond the death of its creator. in this case you can see there is no end to the popularity of nast's christmas illustrations.
unfortunately as exciting as nast's career was, it ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. his frantic pace in the early 1870's when he was defending president grant against charges when he was attacking the tweed ring, began to wear on his arm and shoulder. as a result he had to stop sometimes cartooning. his work began to decline in quality. it was less detailed. it was less precise. he lost a little bit of what made him so successful. 1870's, a longe brewing conflict between himself and his editor at harper's weekly exploded into an open fight. nast began to feel dissatisfied with his position. in the mid-1880's, he finally started to depart and separate himself from the newspaper. by the late 1880's had done so for good.
he tried to maintain his career by working for other papers, but that failed. the circulation was not able to do it. he tried to build a career as a painter. this is an example. i will let you judge for yourself. that failed. he tried to establish his own paper, nast's weekly. it lasted a whopping seven months. and kind of desperate for employment, he turned to his connections in the year was about's administration -- in theodore roosevelt's administration, winning an unlimited ecuador in july of 19 two. you already know it's coming if you read my book. ber he was dead of yellow fever. his death i do nearly destitute wife, and eldest son who idolized and emulated his
father, and worst of all for me, and i realize that a shallow, and author with an unfinished biography. biographer, albert bigelow paine, consoled himself by playing billiards with mark twain. he managed to complete the book, publishing it two years after the cartoonist's untimely death. when it appeared in 19 for, 1904,-- 19 no for, it -- get attracted criticism. one was a contemporary of nast who disagreed with paine and some of his conclusions. nast was not this man a particularly original artist. he borrowed his best ideas from other people. he made a habit of plagiarism. he made that up, but let's call it that. worst of all, he had not really done anything in the civil war.
paine pushed back like you do on a half of the person you wrote a biography. some are easy, proving nast was significant in general. that was not difficult at all. a little touch year was demonstrating nast had worked in the field during the war the way other illustrators had done. that likely, it seems, nast had worked a little. only limited contact with the war itself outside of new york's newspaper buildings, a location not known for big battles. that context matter to him. it changed him. if you were here today, he would be delighted to think of his story is part of a civil war institute. personal,e warmest amoral and national crucible. it made him. if you are here, he would
enthusiastically acknowledge that. what is it that were provided to him? i would say provided three things. the first to appreciate is that on the cusp of the war, nast was quite young. at the end of 1860 he had just turned 20 years old. and he wasn't even in the united states at that point. he had sailed off to england to cover an illegal boxing match -- this was the kind of stuff he was attracted to age 20. he had not been paid for the work you did. that was frustrating to him. from there he sailed to italy because he was attracted to garibaldi's campaign to unify the italian state. garibaldi had been a hero of his father. he traveled to germany in search of relatives. he helped rich relatives leave him or give him my. this turned out not to work out. and finally back to england, effectively penniless, for he boarded a ship from new york in 1861. it's an interesting time to
arrive back in new york city. he returned to this maelstrom of political conflict that the period was characterized by. he had a little black book, which is now on the rutherford b. hayes presidential center in ohio. perhaps we can say that three times fast. they have this little black book. for those of you who may be unfamiliar, menus to carry little books in their pockets which contained addresses, contacts of people they knew, and sometimes they had a calendar. you can keep track of your appointments. that is what this was for 1860 to 1861. it is absolutely charming. he keeps track of his money because he had hardly any. it is cute because he would write down, "sold illustration, one dollar." -- it kept track of
his courtship with sally edwards. he took her to church and agreed to go again next week. it was pretty cute. in that calendar, on the very last it of it he filled out, he hopes hewrote revealed the cells and sketches about what he called the southern excitement. when you read it in retrospect it is interesting to see how innocent it sounds, how he had no idea what was happening and how important it was. he returned to new york older and more confident that he had been when he left. he was repairing to ask his sweetheart -- preparing to ask his sweetheart to be his bride. spoiler alert, she said yes. he was ready, any case you wonder what she looks like, we do not have a ton of clearly attributed images of sally nast. one of the things that was especially adorable was elector -- he liked to portray his
wife in illustrations and paintings. female figure that is attractive, that is probably selling. if you get a chance to see the very small number of letters that exist from his lifetime, he would have sally write the text and then he would illustrate the letters. he often drew her into the letters. i am almost certain this is sally and their older children. this is someone you would certainly want to marry. having successfully concluded was readyhip -- nast in 1861 for bigger challenges than he had ever before tackled. the war was in that context irresistible. the public hunger for news about it as it unfolded help stabilize but having a very strange and kind of volatile illustrated news sector. nast was able to return to a steady job at harpers weekly, which gave him a chance to use his talent to inform the public.
he returned to a future that seemed to him limitless, which perhaps is characteristic of 21-year-old, nast's but in case was not a misperception. it is not just that the war affected nast. he knew in that moment it would do so and he welcomed that. he saw this as a moment that would change who he was and what he was able to do. that was one of the things that made them so interesting. he embraced the experiences were offered him. what were those things that were provided? i would say three broad categories. the war really helped to shape his view of good and a bad. particularly when it came to leadership and patriotism. second, the war sharpened his focus on issues of identity and citizenship, both for black americans and immigrants, particularly the irish. and third it provided a period when he slowly broadened his
reach from illustration toward you and i would recognize more readily as cartooning. we would go through each of those and i will welcome questions. if the servant leadership, were provided nast with a mini pantheon of heroic figures. like a lot of cartoonists, nast relied on a visual shorthand. cartoonists exaggerate melanie and heroism. that is part of the way they approach the images they create. --you're familiar with the stephen siegel, in his movies the bag i is never a little bit bad. he is always as bad as possible. he says all the bad words and he kicks a puppy and breaks somebodies car. there is nothing that he doesn't do just encase the audience has somehow missed that this is in fact the backyard. cartooning is like that, and cartoonists rely on this very
clear-cut sense of who is on the right side of right in wrong. the war helped nast to see that by providing heroes, cementing a stack of heroes he admired and who we thought were awful. he would rely on them for many years, either in spirit with the individuals. it defined what he thought hero is a and bill and he meant. -- villainy men's. meant. villainy u.s. grant occupied a special place. in his work was so successful in part because he channeled anger and excitement and enthusiasm into the drawings he produced. gratitude andof affection that elevated grant at the end of the war, that swept over nast too. imagined the general as the
savior of the union, and he never changed his mind about that. he honored grand for years and years through various things that grant did. first for his role in the war. there was a famous cartoon at the end of the war in which you see grant on the left, lifting his hand robert e. lee to. . and for his leadership of the republican party. and for his work as president, which was a period and which people came not to see grant and anymore. way you can see here for example that he would draw grant standing straight with his spine erect, very handsome. often the object of positive attention from a female symbol of the nation, columbia or justice. d.c. this woman is probably drawn from life from sally.
-- thiss grant appeared is true in the early 1870's, as a rational health with the city or nation vote unpredictable children. nast's adoration was visible all the time in the cartoons he produced for the rest of grant's life and his own career. he had two moments in which it was grounded in real life that are particularly valuable to point out or the capture my fancy because they're entertaining and characteristic of nast. helped the868, nast republican synonymy grant for president. the convention that year, nast was invited to paint the backdrop for this stage. he had a curtain in front. behind that was a backdrop that he painted on canvas. is shown two -- it showed two that a stills. one was u.s. grant and the other was empty because the democrats
in a chosen candidate. he painted the challenge "match him." the application was it was impossible to match the savior of the union. than the election was effectively over. as grants nomination and later accepting the parties choice was read aloud, the curtain dramatically dropped and nast's painting was revealed. the crowd went wild. one of the things about this that is entertaining as a side note, it was reproduced -- this was from harpers weekly. the image on the left is grand. deviancy what abo -- you can see when it's about the absence -- he is an attractive, masculine figure. on the right is the figure of seymour, that nast has done every bad things to have regard to his hair. you can see the shadow, as if the hair wasn't diabolical
enough, he is a little batman like. -- is heally deserve? the hero we deserve? that's the question. and you can see what seymour looked like more normal so you can see what nast had done to him. the caption of the top was "match?" the implication was no, not at all. that did not die in 1868. it was recycled in 1968. on the 100th anniversary of that election by another candidate who also used it successfully. the second time nast's regard for grant entered real life and the part that was emotionally important for him occurred in him occurred in 1872 when nast went to washington to observe politics firsthand, which he found thrilling. if you go looking for nast,
their letters -- there are letters written by sally or to sally. you always to the ones by sally because they are beautiful and the spelling is correct. letters written to sally resemble a chicken scratch and are spelled in phonetic german accented english, which sometimes required me in the archives to read a letter out loud to myself to the rotation my neighbors. -- irritation of my neighbors. he was so excited. people came up to him and threatened him. he said it was the greatest thing in the world. nast was correct. harpers backed him. he received an invitation for lunch with the president which was super exciting for him. that was followed by several further invitations. he and grant got to be kind of
friendly. this was important to nast. you like the idea he was somebody who would take himself. he recognized that in grant, as he would in other men. he became friends with mark twain because he recognized the same life story in twain. homerants visited the nast in moorestown after the presidency. he returned after his world tour. sally nast asked the grant will with a like to have for dinner. the president replied if they ck he was a going to fancy banquets with little birds, they would give him something substantial. they served the former president corn beef and cabbage. they said he liked it. i think all hostesses are actively the guests enjoyed the dinner they are served, but maybe he did. he have this real-life interaction with grant.
he had this emphasis his work on grant a new grant was and what grant meant. the war provided other figures. for example, abraham lincoln, to nast position as an eternal father to the nation's best impulses. a man who represented a desire for peace in the midst of war, and a result against all odds to ensure victory but also national integrity. all the things that lincoln articulated. nast a set of those and believed in those -- accepted those and believed in them and a way. -- this is ant famous cartoon called "emancipation." the red arrow points to the fact that the center piece of this cartoon is characteristic of nast. in the center circle nast has
drawn an idealized family scene in which dad is enjoying announcing the baby on his knee and maybe the teenage daughter has a suitor in the back, and mom is making tea on a cast-iron stove. looking happily over all of this and the mantle is abraham lincoln, which is what the arrow points to. lincoln was portrayed as a partner of general -- george washington as a symbol of national idealism. later nast asserts a kind of multifaceted, multiethnic, diverse american national identity. he creates this table presided over by uncle sam in which the porches on the wall looked down on the celebrants of the holiday or abraham lincoln, george washington, and ulysses s. grant. to get a sense of how these men came to be symbols of what nast believed it meant to be an american, and of the best of american leadership. not everyone of course -- i
should say nast participated fully. one thing that cemented this position for lincoln was his untimely death. that seems to have been one of the first instances in which nast used or channeled his ,rtistic talents into mourning which you do many times in the year to come. with the lin -- that he would seek lincoln to relate from grant, a father whose absence made his position even more important, even more powerful. not everyone is a hero. someone has to be batman. this was andrew johnson among other people. you may recognize the image on the right. nast delighted in making fun of president johnson as a villainous fool, on trustworthy, powermad, corrupt. it was something nast did not lay at johnson's feet, i would
like to know what it is. perhaps getting haircuts he frequently. another example of the villains was nathan bedford forrest, who served as a symbol of the violence of the war and also the postwar period. -- calledkolbe slave the slaveocracy. forest pops up as the bogeyman and theostwar period changes people are trying to achieve in the united states. the important thing in this category about the war is it helped nast work out his views about what americans had a right to expect from their leaders. here find those views in the late 1860's and throughout the 1870's and found them challenged by the politics of the 1880's, which were kind of crazy. thattheless, it is clear this is his first serious
political philosophy. it was formed during the war and should find it happened -- shaped by what happened during the war. twonast the work produced important questions about who was and who was not american. these were questions -- he was an immigrant himself. he struggled to learn to speak, read and write in english. it was an imperfect process his whole life. he idealized the american dream and the american family. he wanted to be somebody. not just to the common american, that theyricans thought of his iconic and fundamental. it was important to him. the first challenge the work brought to that sense of american identity occurred in the summer of the three. here we -- summer of 1863. a story he told that the little
muddled, which is very common for him. tohad been traveling, trying get the gettysburg to observe and report on and draw the battle. instead ended up semi-arrested. it is not entirely clear if he was arrested, and held for several days in the custody of the provost marshal. he said he had been traveling towards getting her and he counted his wife's english cousin john. they decided to go together, which they did until they were stopped by a union patrol. they searched john's bags and found a confederate flag. according to nast, this led to a lot of really uncomfortable questions about her cicely who john was and what they were doing -- precisely who john was an what they were doing. nast protested that he was a journalist. he was neither a spa or cousin in law to a spy. the problem was when the army tried to verify who he was, and nobody knows who this guy is,
they cabled to harpers weekly in new york. all the stuff i gone away for a break. the person whose word would have affirmed his employment had got his country house. had got his country house. nast wrote increasingly cranky letters to sally about how frustrated he was to the stock doing nothing in this money can -- muddy camp. he ultimately missed the battle and returned to you are frustrated and disappointed. that was not the greatest time to return to new york because no sooner had he gotten home that the draft riots brought four days of massive unrest to the city, including attacks on the homes of abolitionists, the sacking and burning of the uponn asylum, and violence policeman and black new yorkers including many lynchings. nast through images of the
violence for harpers weekly. he was sent down to look at what was happening. he never forgot what he saw on those days. they were images that were burned into his imagination. it helped to inform his antipathy towards the iris the rest of his life. he had lots of experience with irish immigration. he grew up in manhattan very close to the five points neighborhood. he spent his entire childhood in the company of irish and german and other immigrants. this was not a new encounter for him, but it was powerful. it really shaped what he thought about irish immigrants for the remainder of his life. life. he reappeared in his work on various occasions. we already seen a couple examples, but on the left he has drawn in the burning colored orphans asylum. and the man on a street lamp who has been lynched. and below that a stock character from his stable of stereotypes
of the irish. the iris thug. that appears over and over again. look at that, so shiny. almost exactly like that appears 6, 8, 10 times over the next decade in his cartoons. take came to be a shorthand for violence perpetrated for racist reasons, violence perpetrated in defiance of the state, etc. this event, the draft riot,'s experience of it, his coverage of it as a professional complicated his you as an american identity that is welcoming to all. he sometimes embraced the idea that some people were better suited to full citizenship and other people. really challenging set of events unfolded more slowly than the draft riot had. they had to do with african americans. nast opposed slavery.
he celebrated the emancipation proclamation with enthusiasm. but as the war progressed, and particularly as the colored troops began to demonstrate courage nast became more convinced the status of black americans with a test of american morality. the rest of his career he would pair violence against black people in the confederacy and with elements of the nation he did not like or he thought should be suppressed. he would also assert in many cartoons the citizenship rights of black people in multiple dimensions, including with regard education, employment, voting rights and the rights to physical and familial safety. you can see his question about whether slavery is dead or not. you can also see in these cartoons, and these are our widely reproduced -- these are widely reproduced,
violence upon people in which the years reconstruction was attempting to change the role of black americans within social and political and economic life. in the upper left is a famous image in which a man asks is this a republican form of government? is this life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as he kneels over the bodies of his dead family. and the center, a small image in which the kkk and a white person shake hands. it says "worse than slavery." the image on the right is only rarely reproduced. many people have never seen it. it's interesting in a modern context because the suggestion is it that people are unable to achieve what they are entitled as citizens through legal means and through peaceful change, they are likely to defend their lives, families and rights with violence. that is quite an unusual thing to see in his work or other cartoons from this period.
it seems kind of an minoring, like there is something mammy and oppressive about the fact that black men will take up arms , not just to defend the country but themselves. he seems to think they have every right to do so. i don't want to suggest he avoided stereotyping or considered black americans be the same as others. even passing familiarity with his work which show that is not true at all. he routinely traffic and stereotypes that are awful. he seems to have embraced during the war provision of a nation that honored military service and sacrifice, honored the sanctity of the family. you can see on the left contrasting the life under slavery with the life under freedom after emancipation. some of the things he emphasized in the center part on the left is the separation of families.
whereas on the right he chose a charming domestic scene in which mom ways to the little boy as he goes to public school with his puppy at his side, which read wonderful of that happened. shere was a way in which nast' interest in the family and his commitment to the gender ideology and to the family ideals expressed for black americans. the fundamental idea for him was that were capable of participating in the decision-making often do so. spent his life trying to become an american. you see pictures of his home, and the santa claus pictures are almost always drawn from life. when you see pictures of his home, it is clear he is trying to create this americanized home. he has a vision of what that is supposed to like and he has tried to build it. if you visit moorestown, new jersey and see the details of
the left behind from his life, it is clear he identified with what he and -- what he believed was idealized american. 's family was the same. he did not seek out a person like himself to marry. he saw that a woman better educated than himself, elegant, part of a family established and literary. he wanted to marry into something he would produce this american citizenship and identity from self. -- for himself. he did not choose to be an artist who painted scenes that were apolitical. he chose to comment on american politics. it is not an accident he did so. he was trying to achieve this american nest that he wanted for himself. there can be nothing more american than to transform your talents into a tool to comment upon or shape what happened in the nation as a whole. habits,ress and reading he would like to look the part of a successful man.
and particularly with regard to grooming. and cpictures of himself almost always dream self is short, fat and harry. if you think about the troll schulz cartoons, the kitty was dirty all the time, he seems to have thought of himself like that. drewspecially any kind he himself and his wife. she would be tall and slender in lovely, and never be a little piggy man next to her. he went to a lot of trouble to look good. he was fulfilling this role. they would read the papers together in the morning and evening. they read shakespeare. he was trying to produce what he had lost through formal education, to become this person he thought was worthy of being important in the united states. if you look at his love filling his house with victorian
knickknacks, you cannot believe it was in this house. a little boy was nailing his stocking but he was standing on a bearskin rug. on top of the mental do would be hard-pressed to put your glasses down because of so much of. debtor is the screen in front of the fireplace that no one needed in the 18th 70's. when you look at the santa cartoons, when he died he left so little money behind that his family was forced to auction his belongings. if you have a chance to look at the auction catalogs, they are fun to look at. we can all only aspire to a life in which you leave behind an entire category for daggers. and a different one for coats of arms. i would like to have a medieval knight in my house. thomas nast had several. he would go shopping and bought all these things and philip's house. it was partly because he was visually stimulated by them.
that is important for a cartoonist, but it's probably because he was filling this sense of himself with things. all of this reflected his efforts to define himself and his identity. the war pushed him to think more about what that identity meant and for whom it meant those things. the third category is his transition from illustration to cartooning. this is shady because the distinction is one that may be obvious or might not, but i think the war was like an incubator for nast. he began as an employee. young, really not employed as an whost, but in illustrator knew the guy who ran the engraving room, so networking. initially he would reproduce other men's drawings. people would stand in drawings and even make it something the magazine could use, or he would just be doing engraving work. but later in the course of the first couple of years of the war
as he drew more on his own and gain confidence in seniority, his skills became more obvious to everyone, he began to produce more often imaginary things. he would raise scenes that are clear that he was not there, with battles, with units, other things. he may only have read about them, but he could make them real with his pencil. that's one of the ways he started to move into a more independent employment with harpers weekly. later his gift for storytelling led him to produce what we now recognize as political illustrations. they were sentimental of political. if you were here this morning, one of the things he said about this period was it was a time like a fulcrum. before the war people were more sentimental. so much more interested in character and personality and adjectives. after the war people were more technical. modernity meant a kind of practicality and logic that was
not characteristic in the antebellum period. 's work exemplifies that. he begins with the sentimental images like this one. love. it is christmas. he gets to come home. is wonderful. for this one -- or this one, the little drummer boy with a letter. or this one in which he prays for the safety of her soldier husband. there are these sentimental illustrations. are the political? yes, of course. there are clearly important assertions about the war and american values and potential for a different teacher. sent -- different future. sometimes they are hostile to the confederacy. this is a middle step between what showing what happened and is later cartoons that would assert a clear political, usually partisan position. the cartoons came last in this progression.
by 1864, he was regularly producing images that show the war as a political struggle. probably the most famous is this one, an image so effective in 1864 the republicans reprinted it is a campaign poster. nast like to brag. that is a complete sentence. we can extend it. he helped to brag he helped ensure lincoln's victory that year. this is something of which he was enormously proud. what the images show as they move towards the kind of look and tenor of his postwar work, he had achieved professional maturity. in the war he had been nurtured at harper's. his talent and skills enhanced by the work he had done, by its intensity and duration. he had transformed. in 1861 he was single, unemployed, relatively footloose and 20 years old. outgoing, but he
was not especially firm in his opinions about the world. by 1865 he was a married father with a steady job and a little fame thanks to this image. and he was in the middle of his 20's. he was approaching a moment where he had understand who he was to take the next professionally. professionally. he identified heroes and villains. he asked difficult questions about what citizenship comprised in home and embraced and he found his artistic self opinionated, witty, cutting, optimistic, romantic at times. the war forged nast, shaping everything about the rest of his life. some of you are abused by this image. this is a much later image from his early 50's. he had become friends with -- leon surrounding that they would apparently have dress up sleepovers where they would
dress up and take pictures. i love this image of him. he is beautifully groomed, very serious, and important person and yet there's this element of play in him that is always a light. i think part of that was in a period that interested you so much. necessary is skim lightly over the service of his work. i welcome questions about him that i will do my best to answer. one of the things i like about studying the civil war is that it constantly reinforces how little you actually know. if i'm unable to answer questions, i apologize in advance. thank you. [applause] >> no fighting. everyone will get a turn.
>> from oxford, ohio, miami university. considering what we were faced with today compared to his lifetime, has, in your professional opinion, that the digital age has lessened the ability of cartoonists to influence us? fiona: i don't think so, no. is probably partly influenced and the fact i have come to know if you cartoonists. i love cartoonists. by social media life is categorized by constantly liking cartoonist. i probably live in a cartoon bubble that is healthy to me. there are cartoonists working today whose work is incredibly
important and celebrated by the community. i'm thinking of pat bagley at the salt lake tribune, whose work was reproduced by someone from across the world on facebook the other day. i think cartoonists are having a great time. and that their work is relevant as ever. i think young people from the digital world is important in theory could be a perfect audience for them. the internet has had an effect on our visual culture. it is not terribly different from what illustrated newspapers and magazines different people in the 1860's. they were not illustrated news sources in the 1830's or 1840's. you would usually buy them individually. courier in ives for example. it was not cheap and it was not fast. whereas advancing in technology meant it was possible for the first time to put out a paper that reproduced events with incredible rapidity. things that only happened two weeks ago.
americans loved it. they were sensational and sarcastic and had jokes and poems and songs and editorial content. it seems to me that process, which happened so fast and so profound was not on what would happen with the internet. people love memes and political satire is not anywhere. i am quite hopeful. to a political cartoonist should be paid 10 times as much as they make? yes. but i don't think that's going to happen. thank you. >> he was living in new york city where there were many irish and many irish in the union army early in the war. had he ever portrayed the irish before the draft riots? was there a clear evidence of his opinion before the war? fiona: something to do with the
scandals before the war. people which in the gut sick and died. it was a form of fraud and completely awful. it was clear he was sympathetic to working people as a broad category. a lot of his early work was so illustrated you don't see an opinion. a lot of israeli correspondence is deeply spotty, little bits here and there. it is hard to know. one of the questions about his portrayal of the irish and his view of the irish has to do with the religious faith of most irish people in new york. nast was almost certainly raised catholic. and responded to the young adulthood by rejecting that entirely. one of the ways he attacked irish people was by attacking their faith. it is curious to interpret somebody he grew up in the neighborhood of immigrants, grew
up in the faith of the people he so derived, and yet who has come to a set of opinions. they are totally inconsistent with other opinions about identity and race and citizenship. he is a complicated figure. there is a cartoon about drawseed era where he people as victims of tweed. often his portrayals were just totally out of keeping with what you would otherwise be in his work. he could be quite bifurcated in that way. thank you. when we think of political satire today, i think of all the family -- "all in the family." archie bunker was supposed to be lampooning a big it, but many people of the time -- i remember
people wearing t-shirts saying "go tell them come archie." i think about stephen colbert and a communication professor at temple did an interesting study that in colbert people see what they want to see. liberals see him making fun of fox news, whereas conservatives see him that he is pointing out the ridiculousness of liberals. that turns us to nast. he took a fair amount of credit for getting grant over the hump. do you have any sense, if it's possible, to gauge of people received his work? did it have this unintended consequence of affirming in some cases the things he was trying to challenge? fiona: there are parts of the question. one part is what do we know about the reception? some, but not that much.
articles about him were reprinted all of the country. he kept scrapbooks. he had a clipping service, which is something i don't know people do anymore. maybe one of those online reputation sites is the modern equivalent. he had scrapbooks at the new york public library. they always start with the position of the don't have that. you do have that. they do have it. they will show it to you. horse town has one. he literally took quick things about himself and put it in the scrapbook to remind people he existed. based on that it is clear that he was very widely read and celebrated in many parts of the country. there are little bits of history to reinforce that. when albert bigelow first approached nast wanting to write a biography, of the story he told was as a child in iowa people have gotten arbors weekly and passed around copies of it and he loved christmas cartoons.
that was his pitch for i'm your biggest fan. and then when he stopped cartooning during the periods brady was fighting with his editor, ever protest letters. people wrote to say, where is nast? there are some indicators there was a white reception. probably the best example is when he did the chautauqua he wasand the lyceum, talked into going on tour. a screen andt up he would drop whatever the audience wanted. sort of like whose line is it anyway, except with chalk. he hated this because he was so for government public speaking. he would write terrible letters back to sally about getting out of here. people loved it and emitted a ton of money doing this. people would not have come out in those numbers and paid money to see him do this for he not very popular. what he misunderstood -- it
depends on what you mean by misunderstood. it is not quite the same as the example you gave, but i don't know if it' possible to determine that. >> i would like for you to comment a little bit about his attack on the tweed ring. a little bit more about his political cartooning, because of the interests he and details -- it's not just a caricature. there is detailed that was included in that artwork. is fascinating. fiona: a lot of these early drawings are even more detailed. if you get a chance to look up close, they are more detailed than later cartoons. what is great about these cartoons is a combined a really developed talent for caricature
detail, both her regard to the details of the political scandal itself and with regard to the portrayals of the details visually. astly, something intangible, sense of humor inability to make it funny so when you are watching a political satire today you shake your head because it's funny because it's awful. he was able to do that. that is what distinguished him from his peers. the tweed campaign was incredibly important in his life. there were three things in together in those years, was was the attack on the tweed ring, first time he went out giving lectures and was entered by how popular he was. he was kind of unprepared for it. and third was his defense of president grant in 1872, which carry great productivity for him and emotional intensity. all three happen in a short time span.
they were the things that made his career, that really made him who he was. they were also it broke and because the problem with inspiration is you can't control it. i remember here in the story -- he had to write it down. nast was like that. when he was productive during the tweed campaign, he would send to the harpers six or seven cartoons a week. they were this big and as detailed as you say. everly made his arm start working -- stop working. he overdid it. is both admirable when you look in the cartoons and you see how beautiful and complex they are in every way. it is also horrifying. when you are seeing is the unfolding of the images is the destruction of his body in the pursuit of the campaign against
political corruption. , you neednot mistaken a reason to move to new jersey. i think it was the threat to the family. he was living in new york city and moved to new jersey. loved storiesly in which he was the important guy. you have to be willing, even when you're totally convinced of your importance and deeply impressed by his talents, you take with a grain of salt how much lincoln and grant loved him. he claims he was visited by an attorney -- this is a horrible story already, who said are you sure this is a good idea, attacking boss tweed? nast said it was working out fine. they said would you be happier if he took a nice european vacation?
with many refund to do with $100,000? -- wouldn't that be fun to do with $100,000? said it would be more fun with $200,000? is $300,000 to much? and he gets the $500,000 before he says you have to go. after he was bribed he was threatened. person rented a house and bought a house they lived in for the rest of his life in new jersey. probably he believed something like that happened. whether it actually happened, it is hard to know. the material left behind is so uneven. as a little of it. it is so unpredictable that knowing what really happened is hard. much of what is in the paine book is personal testimony. they would sit at the players club around the fire and drink and talk and that is great,
except that means a lot of nast 's voice is in the stories of the book. i think we all want to believe our lives have drama. some of that is real and some of the is maybe wishful drama. >> scotch reader, bloomington, indiana. nast obviously uses illustrative abilities to advance or to express vehicle for his own opinions on politics of the day. he mentioned the one political cartoon in the 1864 election as a propaganda piece. is there any evidence that republican party specifically asked him to draw certain he mentionedcartoons or certaino advance an agenda other than his own personal agenda? fiona: there was plenty of evidence of lots of people did that. everyone thought of a cartoon in works with you sent in a letter instead i have a great idea and
you should make a cartoon about this. all the things about los angeles that make it annoying for your waiter was to sell you a script, it in one package. his wife's cousin was a biographer. he wrote a couple of times about nast's process. he said nast said i can't be inspired like that. you can't tell me to do something and having to read a cartoon. i have to be interested in it. lots and lots of people tried either to inspire him in a particular direction, and his editor try to get him to stop doing certain things on behalf of the republican party. resisted all of that at every stage. he did not want other people to give him ideas and he never wanted to be told no. donkey like in his ability to dig his heels in.
i think it's one of the things that i'm that fascinates people. it is so clear in his work that he is really there. this is him, not somebody who is for hire. not somebody reflecting the employers or evenyers the party from which he is a member. he believes these things. i think that's one of the explanations for his and predictability -- unpredictably. or views changed sometimes he considered a particular example different from other moments that you and i would think is kind of the same. signals thatf the that is really him. pressure,f explicit the closest thing you get is the pressure brought to him by george william curtis to stop. thank you. [applause]
>> we have a little bit of a break here. almost 30 minutes before you to come back. the next talk. we will get a drink if you like and then have some announcements before the next presentation. thank you. [crowd noise] >> this is american history tv on c-span3. we are live from gettysburg, pennsylvania for the annual of the war in the two conference hosted by gettysburg college. this is the first of two days of live coverage. after this break, your back live
with the final speaker of today's conference, washington and lee university history professor martin myers. he will talk about confederate general robert e. lee. first, for the next 10 minutes we will visit fort anderson and explore the civil war battlefield in bloomington, north carolina. -- wilmington, north carolina. [crowd noise] >> left to right. zero interval. >> rolling thunder. fire. [applause]
>> we are standing on the parapet, or the crest of fort anderson. it was the largest confederate fort in the war -- in the interior that guarded the western land approaches in the river approaches to the seaport of wilmington. confederates got good intelligence the attack was finally coming by october of 1864. they knew the attack was planned against fort fisher. fort anderson's garrison was depleted to send reinforcements. he might've had a company or two of troops here. there were two attacks on fort fisher. won at christmas of 1864. two and half weeks later they returned with a slightly scaled-down naval task, more soldiers, and this time they were determined to capture the fort.
after two and a half days of bombardment, the second largest naval bombardment of the civil war, union forces attacked late in the afternoon of january 15. they overwhelmed the confederate defenders. exhausted,outmanned, they put up the good fight. but the fort sill that night. -- fell that night. than they turned up river to capture wilmington. that is when fort anderson came into play. general braxton bragg, departmental commander abandoned the fourth at the mouth of the river. he withdrew to fort anderson. soldiershen the most were in fort anderson during the war. about 2300 confederate soldiers here, 4500 across the cape fear river. a division of troops that have been sent by generally -- general lee to make sure
wilmington remained in confederate hands. it had to be safeguarded. remember, if wilmington fell, they could not maintain his army. you have troops over here. you have troops directly across the cape fear river. general grant wants to capture notches for fisher and close the harbor, he needs to capture wilmington. why? well, at the time that the federals were being defeated in christmas, on they gained an important victory 300 miles to the south. general william sherman's army captured savannah. after capturing, occupying and destroying atlanta in the fall of 1864, general sherman marched his 60,000 man army the entire breadth of the state and captured savannah on december 21. he presented the city to
president lincoln as a christmas gift. now safe on the seacoast, general grant one of the hollister shirt -- transfer sherman's armie from petersburg -- from savannah to petersburg for one last push against robert e. lee's army, a greatly expanded army. wilmington became so important that u.s. grant left virginia, came to the cape fear river and on january 28 he consulted with the leaders who had captured fort fisher. had a recapture wilmington? -- how to recapture on the? admiral dixon porter and the union general whose forces had fisher, they saider, they we have been here for two weeks and we have scouted the confederate positions. the ground on the east side of the cape fear river is a peninsula and to narrow for military operations.
and strongly defended by a line harfs known as the sugarloaf line. we will transfer to the west side of the cape fear river. will have the flotilla move up the river, provide covering fire for both wings of the army on the east side in west side of the river. but really there is only one major obstacle between us and wilmington. that is for anderson on the west side. it will provide a lot of elbow room for the army. we can attack fort anderson from the river. we can attack it from the south. if possible, we can attack it had on with the protection of the navy. or necessary, we can outflank it by going around defenses that go all the way to the west end of the pond. that is on the battle occurred, february 17 to the early morning
hours of february 19, 1865. flotilla ofer's gunboats, almost 30 of them, put on the ship and bar meant over about two days on the fort. firing about 4000 shots of shell at the fort. one of the vessels in the fleet was a floating tank. the monitor montauk. turret.on tour -- it was able to get within about 800 yards of the fort and fire big shells into the earth works where we are standing right now. in the meantime, grant send reinforcements that were transferred across the cake the river -- cape fear river. they approached from two miles from the north where the major landing. and get within 600 yards of the fort. the ground between the fort and
the tree line having cleared out for a field of fire. what they discovered with this was a very strong earthen fort. attacking it had on would be almost murderous. like the attack on the 54th massachusetts on battery wagner in 1863. while they debated whether or not to attack it straight on, even with the protection of the navy, african-americans showed up in their camp and said i know a way around the pond and 40 anderson. -- fort anderson. he guided the union forces, to brigade to forces around the fort to the west, around the pond and the positioned themselves in the north side on the night of february 18. the weakness of fort anderson was it was just a two-sided work.
if union forces can get on the north side of the fort, they could attack it more easily with less opposition. captureddiers who were and some deserters informed the general who commanded the garrison here what happened. they decided to evacuate the fort and retreat towards wilmington. early morning hours on february 19, confederate forces pact of their belongings and abandoned the fort and headed towards wilmington. the united states army overran the fort about don on february 19. army just south of the fort and heard the sounds of evacuation throughout the early morning hours of february 19. as soon as the sun started to volley, they fired a
charged the fort, stormed over the walls of the fort in time to capture about 40 or 50 of the confederate rear guard that was protecting the rear of the main army in retreat towards wilmington. they also found a garrison flag lying on the ground. union forces by sunrise had captured in occupied fort anderson. well, the united states navy did not know that. at sunrise they renewed bombardment. now they are exploding projectiles in the fourth among the union soldiers who rushed to the top of the fort, down to the river front where we are now and they are waiting their hands and waving their hats and blowing their bugles to signal the navy that the army has captured the fort. well, for admiral porter that is not good enough.
he has a marine contention wrote him to shore -- row him to shore. the plants his flag in the fort and declares the u.s. navy has captured fort anderson. it's the only incident in the civil war for the united states fortcaptured a confederate from united states army. on february 22, 1865. just two days after fort anderson was evacuated. wilmington fell in and robert e. lee surrendered his forces. he was forced to abandon petersburg in early april and retreated westward. he was forced to surrender by u.s. grant on april 9. that was only about six weeks after the fall wilmington.